Wednesday, 26 May 2010

I need advice about painting a pine bookshelf

We were given two bookshelves through a friend of a friend. And as you know, I can't pass up a freebie, even if it is kind of ordinary looking.

Country pine bookshelf

They are solid pine and are in great condition. We will use one in the back corner of the sunroom to store our books and the other one will live in our room beneath the house (aka The Gimp Room).

But the bookshelves cannot stay as they are.

I'm thinking of painting them white and I'd also like to paint the inside of the shelves a deep teal blue. I will be ridding the shelves of the ornate moulding on the top and the bottom, so they don't look like the country cousin to our retro/ mid-century furniture. Trust me, it will look good.

One problem though. I've never ever painted furniture. I've sanded and refinished a few mid-century pieces with Estapol and Danish Oil, but I've never actually painted anything other than walls (and a few canvases).

It's simple, right? Right?

Everyone seems to do this sort of thing in Blogtopia. So, what sort of paint does one use? Oil based? Acrylic? Is there a special primer I should use?

What are your secrets? I am all ears (or eyes, in this case). I need your furniture painting guidance. Please.


  1. I wish I could help you but I am only good at some DIY things. That orangey pine makes me feel a bit scared because I am certain you will need to do lots and lots and lots and lots of sanding. And then a bit more sanding. And then some more sanding after that. BUT I love your plan it will look amazing. I will come back and look for the advice you get because I have a bench I need to fix up in a similar vein.

  2. Yeah, the orangey pine scares me too. But I have a belt sander and an orbital sander...

  3. People in blogtopia are magic. They have magic hands and magic ways of making things pretty.

    Ok, actually, that's my round-about way of saying I have no idea and, for what it's worth, I have a very similar set of shelves at home I've been wanting to paint white for ages. Why don't you go to the Oracle (Bunnings) and ask them?

  4. Hello... new to your blog but I have had a lovely look around... go to The Painted Hive - ( she is fabulous and has a great advice post last month I think. She is also happy to be emailed for advice. Good luck. Ann x

  5. I painted furniture earlier a couple of times, but they never looked flawless. I think preparation of the surface is key and I recommend to use a roller for the large surfaces. Not really useful, I guess, but maybe helps :-)

  6. Best advice is to ask sandy at sandy's place...she has a particular primer paint that she swears by and has blogged about and knows all the best/easiest paints out there. Also they need some nice sleek mid century handles don't you think..I love the idea of removing the moulding.cheers Katherine

  7. Hi!
    I used to work in a shop in Milan where I was in charge of painting and decorating frames and furniture and this is what we used to do:
    - The first thing was to apply 2 coats of white gesso primer (water based and ready to use from the store), sanding between the coats and after with very fine grade sanding paper.
    - now that have a smooth surface and you can't see the wood fiber apply 2-3 coats of acrylic paint using a soft flat brush (to avoid leaving marks on the surface)
    - finish it with bee's wax: apply uniformly with a piece of cloth, let it dry, and then polish with a clean cloth (paper kitchen roll works well too) That gives it a very soft finish, nice to touch. There are other products to finish it but the effect of wax is really lovely.
    In any case, it might be a good idea to try all the process in a piece of wood or a small object like a frame before you attack the big one.
    Looking forward to seeing the results!

  8. Sarah at abeachcottage swears by one particular primer - primer is terribly important, especially over varnish of any kind - that and sanding to get a good key. The work involved has put me off before now!

  9. I have painted many pieces. Keep it simple. Lightly sand the entire piece. Add one coat of Zinsser (primer good quality)(don't know if you have it there) and then 2 coats of paint. No need to sand between. I have recently used a new paint by Behr. It has a built in primer, so after a light sanding you can miss the priming step.

  10. Hi, I would definitely give a light sand and prime before painting this furniture. Have you thought of wallpapering the back of the shelves for a splash of colour and interest - you can mount the wallpaper on a piece of thin MDF and attach it to the back of the shelves, this way you can simply remove it if you change your mind. Good luck! Michelle

  11. Chania is right. It's easy. Lightly sand and then prime. Resene's is great. And then 2 coats of paint. Acrylic's are so good these days, and so much nicer to use, and easier to clean up after. The priming will take the longest. And you'll be so excited by the transformation once you start to put on the paint that it will fly on! Have fun!

  12. its EASY and fun. i just rough sand, prime (use a good one) and paint.
    i actually have had alot of luck using spray paint. it sounds crazy but it so easy to get a good even finish with no brush marks.

    have fun. i just did a pine coffee tables and end table today in flat black. took me about one hour. they look awesome

    ~lauta x

  13. As others have said - sand, primer, and 2 coats of water-based eggshell, sanding v lightly inbetween. I have a bookcase to do too whenever I get the chance, and an old dresser to repair and paint. Looking forward to seeing the photos when you have finished.

  14. A light sand first to get rid of the shiny part of the gloss coat on the pine. Then use water based paint. You can oprime it first, which is basically an undercoat, then, depending on what finish you want, (matte, semi gloss, gloss) I'd use a water based enamel. I'd also get a small (tiny) roller to give the paint job a nice finish.
    Hope that's a help

  15. Ask Sandy at Sandy's Place.. she could help you as she is the master! I always paint stuff, but I am very slap happy and would not prime or anything. I just paint about 3 coats and done! Good luck. Can't wait to see the outcome :)

  16. After much trial and error, you can't go past Zinsser primer - BIN 123 is the one I use. It's spirit based, quick drying, and you can use any type of paint over the top. That's a really important step, because if you have an oil-based stain, you can't use a water-based paint over it without thorough sealing. It's also a tannin-blocker, so you won't have sap from the timber bleed through into your new paint work. I just used this primer on my kitchen makeover, and I've used it for years on all my furniture renos. Hope this helps, and I can't wait to see how it turns out! K xx

  17. I have been using an aqua enamel paint for the top coat. It has all the durability of enamel and the brushes wash out in water.
    I will be watching how you go, I have a similar bookshelf that needs some love.


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